KP activates 23 consumer protection councils
PESHAWAR: In order to protect the rights of consumers, the Directorate of Commerce and Industry as per the directives of Chief Minister Mehmood Khan has activated as many as 23 Consumers Protection Councils (CPCs) across the province. Director Industry and Commerce Muhammad Yasir Hassan talking to this agency said that the CPCs have also been set up in merged districts, adding that apart from the councils, currently there were 17 Consumer Courts operational in the province. He said that one only needed to file a complaint verbally or on a simple page against shopkeepers, product or professional service providers and submit it to the Assistant Director CPC in their respective areas. He said that the Assistant Director (AD) would evaluate the complaint and on the basis of facts would take action against the responsible. The AD has the power to recover up to Rs 50,000 from the person responsible and could impose a penalty on him. In case of damages more than Rs 50,000, he said the AD would file a case in Consumer Court and after due course of legal hearing, the relief would be provided to the complainant. He said it was the right of every individual to get quality services, products and essential commodities against the money they paid, adding that CPC was a platform for educating and redressing the grievances of consumers. He said, “Under Consumer Protection Act 1997 the CPC can take action against overpricing, unhygienic conditions, unqualified staff, false advertisement, the low gauge at filling stations, low weights at bakery, vegetables and fruit shops and other essential services.” Meanwhile, talking to APP chief executive of KP Network for Consumer Protection, Nadeem Iqbal underlined the need for creating awareness among the masses about this very right of the people. He said that it was the duty of the consumers to register complaints against all those who were exploiting them, adding that the provincial government has set up councils under the industries department to protect the rights of consumers now it’s up to consumers to avail the service. Iqbal suggested that CPCs should have to hold regular meetings as per Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Consumer Protection Rules 2007 and also educate the masses and civil society at provincial and district levels to build the trust of consumers in those bodies. He also suggested that the council should have representation from all line departments including health, police, food, local chamber of commerce and industry and civil society as well as females for proactive action on public complaints. He said under a project the consumer Network has trained more than 50 lawyers in Peshawar on consumer protection laws. He added that in case of any complaint with regard to power and gas those lawyers could be contacted for filing a case in the court. He appreciated that KP province was one of the first provinces to make legislation on consumer protection in 1997 but said that still, the ratio of using their right was very low in the province due to unawareness among the common people. – APP